Public Health Nutrition

Research Paper

Breast-feeding in South Korea: factors influencing its initiation and duration

Woojin Chunga1, Hanjoong Kima2 c1 and Chung-Mo Nama2

a1 Graduate School of Public Health, Yonsei University, 134 Shinchon-dong, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul 120-752, South Korea

a2 Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, South Korea


Objective To investigate factors influencing the practices of partial breast-feeding (PBF) and exclusive breast-feeding (EBF).

Design A national, cross-sectional survey was conducted among married women aged 15–49 years from May to August 2003.

Setting South Korea.

Subjects A total of 865 mothers answered questions regarding the feeding practices of their youngest baby, born between January 2001 and May 2003.

Results The initiation rates of PBF and EBF were 81% and 63%, respectively. However, the median durations of PBF and EBF were very short: 12 and 8 weeks, respectively. According to stepwise logistic and Cox regression analyses, the more prenatal care women received, the more likely they were to initiate PBF and EBF but the less likely to continue EBF. Delivery by Caesarean section decreased the initiation of PBF and EBF. The mother’s education level and employment status before marriage, the amount of prenatal care, delivery method and baby’s status at birth affected breast-feeding initiation, whereas the amount of prenatal care influenced breast-feeding duration.

Conclusion To promote breast-feeding, education and campaigning on the importance of continued breast-feeding should be provided to the general public, particularly to health workers in maternity units.

(Received August 09 2006)

(Accepted March 28 2007)


c1 Corresponding author: Email